How to reach your fitness goals during the summer

Fitness whole pizza in my mouth

Between late night study sessions with ramen noodles, endless cups of coffee, slices of pizza with friends, and all-you-can-eat ice cream in the campus cafeteria, it’s no wonder colleges are notorious for weight gain.

Even if you were able to avoid the “Freshman 15,” there’s a good chance you haven’t been as focused on your health and fitness in school.

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Whether you’ve gained a few extra pounds or you just want to get in better shape, setting fitness goals for yourself this summer is a great way to stay productive, get healthy, and even prepare yourself physically and mentally for your next semester in the fall.

Reaching your fitness goals doesn’t have to be hard. Summer makes it easier than ever to stay active and get effective workouts several times a week without having to break the bank. If you’re ready to start making healthier choices to get in shape this summer, keep reading!

The obesity epidemic and how you can fight it

Obesity has become a major problem in the United States. An adult body mass index (BMI) over 30 is considered to be obese, and statics show that 39% of Americans fit this category. Unfortunately, it’s a problem that doesn’t show signs of slowing down.

Obesity currently impacts 17% of adolescents in the U.S. If the next generation doesn’t make a change, the overall number of overweight individuals will continue to rise.

The risk factors of obesity are nothing to take lightly. Many health complications can arise from being overweight, including:

  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Kidney disease

The best way to fight obesity is through a healthy, well-rounded diet and regular exercise. You don’t need to go on some crazy fad diet or cut certain foods completely out of your life. Eating a mixture of whole grains, lean proteins, along with a lot of fruits and vegetables will give you the nutrients you need while you try to manage your weight.

Of course, your diet is only half the battle. If you’re making a commitment to health and fitness, it’s important to develop an exercise routine. One of the best ways to go about doing that is to create a plan for yourself. Having something organized, written down, or even a calendar with daily reminders will make it easier for you to stay on top of your workouts.

In the long run, that will make it easier to stick with your plan.

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Focusing on Your Fitness Goals

As you start developing your plan, you should keep in mind what your actual goals are over the summer.

Do you want to lose a certain amount of weight? Do you want to walk or run a certain number of miles each day? Or, do you have a big “end” goal in mind, like being able to run a half-marathon by the time you get back to school?

No matter what your fitness goals are, utilize things that will keep you organized and on track. One of the easiest ways to do that is to take advantage of apps and websites designed to keep you healthy. Try a steps to miles calculator to convert how many steps you’ve taken in a day to miles, so you can log your daily achievements. Or, try downloading apps to your smartphone, like MyFitnessPal, Strava, or Map My Run, or Earth Miles to stay motivated and on track throughout the summer.

Get Moving and Get Losing!

One of the best parts about getting fit in the summer is that you can find a lot of natural ways to stay in shape outside. While getting a gym membership can be beneficial, especially if you want to include strength training in your workouts, it’s not always necessary in order to get a good burn!

Gym memberships can also be a financial burden when you’re a struggling student who will have access to your school’s rec center for free come fall.

The easiest way to work out in the summer? Go for a run! It’s free, you can easily track your distance and calorie count with one of the apps listed above or a tracking device like Fitbit, and you can challenge yourself to run faster, longer, or different routes each time.

Running is also a great way to build friendships. Find a running buddy and motivate each other all summer long. If you do want to invest in some equipment, you can get in great workouts from the comfort of your own home. Some essentials for both cardio and strength training include:

  • Running/cross-training shoes
  • Pull-up bar
  • Dumbells/weights
  • Yoga mat (if you’re working out on a hard surface)

There are so many effective cardio exercises you can do at home with very little space, including burpees, high knees, lateral jumps, jumping jacks, push-ups, and sit-ups. These are great cardio options if you live in a small apartment, or if you’re home for the summer and don’t have a lot of room. You also don’t need an expensive weight set to get in a good strength training session. Choose a variety of weights that will challenge you, and incorporate some type of strength training into your routine three times a week.

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Breaking a Summer Sweat

If you’re determined to reach your fitness goals this summer, don’t forget to have fun! When working out becomes a chore, you’re less likely to keep it up. Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to stay active this summer while having fun with your friends, or meeting new people.

Try something new like paddleboarding, or kayaking. Go on a trail run or hike up a sand dune. You can even try rooftop yoga to take in the sounds of your city and the warmth of the summer sun. By making a commitment to fulfill your summer fitness goals, you’ll be heading back to college with no sign of the “Freshman 15” in sight. On top of that, you’ll undoubtedly feel better about your physical health than you have in a long time, and you’ll be able to keep up your healthy routine even as classes start up again.

Congratulations on taking the first step toward a healthier lifestyle — the habits you develop now can benefit you through the rest of your collegiate year and beyond!

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